Sophocles intertwines the contrasting ideas of fate and free will throughout Oedipus the King, and conclusively leaves it to the audience to determine the reason for the tragedy that occurs in the story. The Oracle informs Oedipus of his destined future, which is to eventually shed his own father’s blood and marry, as well as conceive children with, his mother. As the story plays out, Oedipus comes to the realization that he has indeed fulfilled the prophecy given to him. While he has an honor to uphold as King of Thebes, he disgraces his people with his actions of murder and incest. Ultimately, Oedipus’ character flaws are responsible for the disaster that takes place in the story, including his lack of self-control and anger, impulsive decision to marry Jocasta, and self admittance of fulfilling his destiny.
As Oedipus was making his way to Thebes, he came upon another cart in the intersection of the road, manned by another gentleman. When Oedipus came upon the other carriage in the crossroad, he could have easily ignored the confrontation with this man and went about his way on his journey. Instead, he chose to listen to his own pride and fight, subsequently murdering the man in the road, who he later discovers is his biological father. He exclaims, “Swinging my club in this right hand I knocked him out of his car, and he rolled on the ground. I killed him. I killed them all” (Sophocles 1305, lines 286-289). His anger, as well as his lack of self control, contributes greatly to the tragedy.
By another interpretation, it could be argued that this action of murdering his father is explained by his fate. It should be noted that because Oedipus was aware of his fate, he was in control of his ability to avoid it. If he was not made aware of his destiny by the Oracle, he would have not known of his responsibility to defy the odds. I believe this could have led to a different outcome. If he had not fled his city
Cited: Sophocles. "Oedipus the King." X.J. Kennedy, Dana Gioia. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing, Part 3: Drama. 10th Edition. Vol. Part 3: Drama. New York: Longman, 2007.